The best air purifiers you can buy in 2024

Updated on July 12, 2024
Written by
Danny Ashton
Danny is the founder of HouseFresh and has been writing about air purifiers since 2010. He is our lead tester and reviewer, and is also the human in front of the camera in our YouTube channel.

COVID-19 and wildfire smoke covering the NYC skyline showed the importance of keeping the air in our homes clean of pollutants.

Sadly, the air purifier industry is full of many bad actors, with manufacturers claiming lab reports that don’t exist and exaggerating room size recommendations — and even big media publications recommending sub-par devices just to earn a higher affiliate commission off your purchase.

But improving the air quality inside your home doesn’t need to burn a hole in your pocket.

Since 2021, we have bought and thoroughly tested 72 air purifiers (and counting!) with the goal of separating the good from the absolute scams.

HouseFresh picks: 2024’s top air purifiers

These are our recommendations for the best air purifier you can buy today.

After all our testing, I am confident that these three air purifiers are the best units you can buy today based on their reliability, air cleaning performance and running costs:

Levoit Vital 200STaoTronics AP-003Levoit Core 600S
Air cleaning speed18 minutes26 minutes15 minutes
Clean air delivery rate (CADR)– Smoke: 242 CFM 
– Dust: 263 CFM 
– Pollen: 240 CFM
– Smoke: 198 CFM 
– Dust: 202 CFM 
– Pollen: 215 CFM
– Smoke: 377 CFM 
– Dust: 373 CFM 
– Pollen: 437 CFM
Filter technologyTrueHEPA filter and activated carbon filterTrue HEPA with activated carbon pellets3-stage Levoit filtration, including activated carbon
Maximum room size375 sq. ft. (35 m²)322 sq. ft. (30 m²)635 sq. ft. (59 m²)
Weight13.2 lbs (5.9 kg)18 lbs (8.16 kg)13.7 lbs (6.2 kg)
Noise levels38.3 — 57.7 dB38.4 — 54.2 dB40.9 — 61.4 dB
Filter life12 months6 months6-12 months
HouseFresh reviewVital 200S reviewTT AP003 reviewCore 600S review

Last update on 2024-07-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

But those are just the top three.

Our full list includes eight air purifiers in total, including both recently released models and reliable classic units that are still worthy of recommendations. Read till the end to find out about the solid air purifiers that didn’t make the cut — and the ones that we tested that are not a good investment.

1. The air purifier for most people is the Levoit Vital 200S

A high-performing air purifier with cleaning power that matches units sold for double its price.

According to the AHAM Verifide certificate, the Levoit Vital 200S has an overall CADR is 245 CFM, and it can provide up to five air changes per hour in rooms up to 375 sq. ft. I’m happy to report that the CADR rating matches our performance tests. 

When we tested the air cleaning performance of the Vital 200S, it was capable of removing all PM1 particles from the air in our 728 cubic ft. test room in just 18 minutes — which is nearly as fast as devices costing upwards of $500.

The Vital 200S is one of Levoit’s latest devices, and it shows. Its new hyperefficient fan managed to clean the air in our test room 22 minutes faster than the Levoit Core 300 while consuming almost the same amount of energy: in our tests, it pulled just 44.55 watts when running at its highest speed. 

This reduced energy consumption means lower energy bills. The Vital 200S, running all day every day for one year, will only add $67.95 to your electricity bill — that is $13.60 less than what you’d pay for the Winix 5500-2 ($81.54) to get a similar performance.

Many air purifiers improve particle removal performance using an ionizer in combination with HEPA filtration. Even though modern devices that use ionizers don’t release ozone anymore, some of our readers say they are sensitive to them, so you will be pleased to know that the Levoit Vital 200S has no ionizer function. 

What we really like

Great air cleaning performance for a sub $200 device.
The gas filter comes with pelleted activated carbon.
It features auto mode and app support with the VeSync app.
You can remove the pre-filter for easy cleaning.
No ionizer.
It is relatively quiet — our tests showed that it generates just 57.7 dB when running at its top speed, which is equivalent to a normal conversation or a refrigerator humming in the background.

What we think could be better

The carbon and HEPA filters are integrated, so you can‘t change the carbon filter without changing the HEPA filter.
The air quality sensors need periodic cleaning.

To make you aware, Dyson did make a complaint about Levoit’s use of HEPA, and afterward, Levoit removed this term from their marketing for its Core series but didn’t remove it from their marketing material for this device, so we can assume that the filters used for the Vital 200S are True HEPA.

This device is our top choice for 2024 because it offers outstanding air cleaning performance, generates low levels of noise, has a removable pre-filter (which make it easier to clean) AND it includes smart functions like auto-mode and app support (which is extremely rare at this price point). 

HouseFresh rating:★★★★★
Time to clean our 728 cubic feet test room (with the device running at top speed):18 minutes
Air purifier technology:H13 TrueHEPA and activated charcoal filter
Recommended room size (4.8 air changes per hour):375 sq. ft. (5 ACH)
Clean air delivery rate (CADR):Dust: 263 CFM
Smoke: 242 CFM
Pollen: 240 CFM
Dimensions (in inches / in cm):15.6D x 8.5W x 19.8H inches (39.3D x 21.5W x 50.2H cm)
Weight (in pounds / in kg):13.2 lbs (5.9 kg)
Filter life:12 months
Noise level in decibels (measured from 3 ft. away with a sound level meter):Speed 1: 38.3 dB
Speed 2: 41.9 dB 
Speed 3: 53.8 dB
Speed 4: 57.7 dB
Electricity consumption in watts (recorded with an electricity usage monitor):Standby mode: 0.97 watts
Speed 1: 5.71 watts
Speed 2: 8.01 watts
Speed 3: 31.96 watts
Speed 4: 44.55 watts
Estimated running cost (electricity consumption + official filter replacement):$127.94 per year
Cost per CADR cfm (based on dust CFM as reported by AHAM):$0.72
Manufacturer’s warranty:2 years
Country of manufacture:China

See our full review

2. The best budget air purifier is the TaoTronics TT AP-003

Overlooked by many, this unit is one of the best-performing air purifiers to date with a super budget-friendly initial price.

Most websites that “recommend” air purifiers just care about their commission check. That could explain why you won’t find the Taotronics AP-003 on any “best air purifier” lists, as it truly is a cheap air purifier, and it isn’t available on major retailers with affiliate programs such as Target or Walmart.

We first saw the device when it became a major hit with the COVID-aware community on Twitter, so we were keen to review it for ourselves. On paper, it offered a massive CADR score of 226 CFM (384 m³/h), unheard of at the low price of $99.

When we finally got to test it in our home lab, it removed all the PM1 pollutants from our incense smoke test in 26 minutes, eight minutes quicker than what we saw with the $400+ Alen Breathsmart 45i.

It’s not just raw air cleaning performance that makes the Taotronics AP-003 our top-budget air purifier for 2024. It also comes with a removal pre-filter, something usually lacking in cheaper devices, and even an onboard air quality sensor with a screen that indicates how many particles are in the air.

What we really like

It offers the best performance for $ spent across all the air purifiers we tested.
You can remove the pre-filter for easy cleaning.
It comes with an on-board particle sensor and air quality indicator screen.
The gas filter uses pelleted carbon.

What we think could be better

You can’t buy it on Amazon after TaoTronics was caught pushing fake reviews.
It can be difficult to find it in stock on the TaoTronics website.

The only downside is that the company behind this device was kicked off, so it’s unavailable there. Recently, we found that eBay usually has many new devices available to buy, so it is worth checking there if you can’t find it locally.

HouseFresh rating:★★★★★
Time to clean our 728 cubic feet test room (with the device running at top speed):26 minutes
Air purifier technology:H13 HEPA with activated carbon pellets
Recommended room size (4.8 air changes per hour):307 sq. ft.
Clean air delivery rate (CADR):Dust: 202 CFM
Smoke: 198 CFM
Pollen: 215 CFM
Dimensions (in inches / in cm):21.8 x 14.1 x 7.9 inches (55.4 x 35.8 x 20cm)
Weight (in pounds / in kg):13.64 lbs (6.19 kg)
Filter life:6 months
Noise level in decibels (measured from 3 ft. away with a sound level meter):Speed 1: 38.4 dB
Speed 2: 42.8 dB
Speed 3: 54.2 dB
Electricity consumption in watts (recorded with an electricity usage monitor):Standby mode: 0.7 watts
Speed 1: 5.9 watts
Speed 2: 10.5 watts
Speed 3: 36.5 watts
Estimated running cost (electricity consumption + official filter replacement):$90.66 per year
Cost per CADR cfm (based on dust CFM as reported by AHAM):$0.49
Manufacturer’s warranty:1 year
Country of manufacture:China

See our full review

3. The best for offices and classrooms is the Smart Air Blast Mini

Robust, powerful, quiet and straightforward; functional as only the SmartAir team could achieve.

Smart Air is a Certified B Corp and social enterprise that puts 100% of its profits back into creating clean air and fighting air pollution. Plus, it does great experiments to bust myths about air purifiers.

With 435 CFM (740 m³/h), the Blast Mini boasts the highest CADR of all the air purifiers we have tested to date, except for the Alorair Clean Shield HEPA 550, which you wouldn’t want to use in an office or classroom due to how painfully loud it is (74.5 dB at its top fan speed). When testing its air cleaning performance, the Blast Mini cleaned our test room of all PM1.0 pollutants in only 12 minutes.

Most air purifiers designed for larger spaces use powerful fans to push enough air through the filters, which means they also run super loudly at top fan speed settings. Smart Air takes a different approach with its Blast Mini. Using a large surface area of filters, they can get enough air through them without too much noise. In our sound levels testing, we measured the Blast Mini hitting only 56.3 dB(A) at its highest fan speed, 51.2 dB(A) for mid-speed and 44.9 dB(A) at its lowest speed. Be sure to have a listen for yourself:

The combination of a low level of noise generated and a high CADR makes the Blast Mini an excellent choice for situations requiring clean air without impacting concentration, like a classroom or office. 

What we really like

It can clean a lot of air but only makes 56.3 dB(A) of sound at its top fan speed, based on our tests.
Very fair prices for new filters that provide 13 months of usage.
With an outer case made of metal instead of plastic, this unit is robust and built to last.
Only has a one-dial command to navigate through three fan speeds.
It uses no ionizer, and the mechanical filters clean the air. 

What we think could be better

It comes at a high initial price of just under $600.
It is an oversized unit that takes up a lot of space, making it likely overkill for smaller rooms.
It’s also a heavy unit (59 lb), not designed to be moved around from room to room as easily — although the wheels help!

It’s not cheap, but if you have the funds and want the best air cleaning for large spaces with the least noise, the Smart Air Blast Mini is the device you should buy. When we first got the device, the carbon filter was an optional extra, but they now sell versions with it included. 

If you have a smaller space, you should consider the wall-mountable Smart Air SA600, which only makes 56 dB at its high fan speed and is good enough for rooms up to 450 sq. ft. versus the 915 sq. ft. you get with the Smart Air Blast Mini.

HouseFresh rating:★★★★★
Time to clean our 728 cubic feet test room (with the device running at top speed):12 minutes
Air purifier technology:H13 HEPA filter (and optional activated carbon filter)
Recommended room size (4.8 air changes per hour):703 sq. ft.
Clean air delivery rate (estimated CADR):435 CFM
Dimensions (in inches / in cm):22.6L x 13W x 24.8H inches (57.5L × 33W × 63H cm)
Weight (in pounds / in kg):59 lbs (26.8 kg)
Filter life:13 months
Noise level in decibels (measured from 3 ft. away with a sound level meter):Speed 1: 44.9 dB
Speed 2: 51.2 dB
Speed 3: 56.3 dB
Electricity consumption in watts (recorded with an electricity usage monitor):Standby mode: 0 watts
Speed 1: 51.9 watts
Speed 2: 87.4 watts
Speed 3: 122.7 watts
Estimated running cost (electricity consumption + official filter replacement):$311.89 per year
Cost per CADR cfm (based on dust CFM as reported by AHAM):$1.38
Manufacturer’s warranty:1 year
Country of manufacture:China

See our full review

4. The best air purifier for smoke is the IQAir HealthPro Plus

A Swiss-quality air purifier with an impressive amount of activated carbon.

While many air purifiers contain activated carbon filters, these are often far too small to deal with severe odor issues like cigarette smoke from neighbors or chemical gases from construction work. HEPA alone won’t be able to block these VOCs, and the standard amount of carbon you find in most air purifiers will quickly become full and ineffective.

The IQAir HealthPro Plus features a gas filter with over 5 lbs of activated carbon and zeolite in combination with a HyperHEPA primary filter and a pre-filter. Paired with a powerful fan, it provides effective gas and odor removal — it cleaned our test room of all PM1 particulate matter in 24 minutes.

The Austin Air Healthmate is another device that comes packed with A LOT of carbon, but it failed to make this list as it’s too underpowered in terms of particulate removal for such a hefty price ($700). The IQAir Healthpro Plus provides much better value.

Be aware that IQAir devices don’t come cheap ($900 for the HealthPro Plus), but they do come with a 5-year warranty. Besides, this is one of the oldest brands in the air purifier industry. Every air purifier is made in Switzerland and tested in the factory before being delivered to your home with a hand-signed certificate.

What we really like

Excellent particle removal performance with a huge carbon filter, something rare to find in an air purifier.
IQAir is one of the industry’s most trusted brands and they provide third-party lab reports for their filter effectiveness.
It is extremely quiet (36.9 dB at the lowest fan speed), considering the powerful fan it comes equipped with.
It comes with long-lasting filters that need replacement every four years, reducing long-term running costs.

What we think could be better

It comes at a high initial cost of just under $900.
Genuine filter costs are some of the highest on the market. That said, there are generic filters available at more affordable prices.
It is power-hungry, pulling around 145.2 watts when running at its highest fan speed.
There is no auto-mode or app support, but it does come with a remote.

It’s certainly not the best-looking device on the market, and if that’s an issue for you, you will want to look at the IQAir Atem X instead. The Atem X is on our list to review this year, so we can’t speak of its air cleaning performance, but its fashionable design doesn’t come cheap at $1,400!

HouseFresh rating:★★★★★
Time to clean our 728 cubic feet test room (with the device running at top speed):24 minutes
Air purifier technology:HyperHEPA and V50-CELL gas and odor filter
Recommended room size (4.8 air changes per hour):1125 sq. ft. 
Clean air delivery rate (CADR):Dust: 250 CFM (HouseFresh estimate)
Dimensions (in inches / in cm):28H x 18W x 16D inches (71H x 38W x 41D cm)
Weight (in pounds / in kg):35 lbs (15.88 kg)
Filter life:4 years
Noise level (measured from 3 ft. away):Speed 1: 36.9 dB
Speed 2: 37.2 dB
Speed 3: 40.9 dB
Speed 4: 47.2 dB
Speed 5: 53.9 dB
Speed 6: 61.2 dB
Electricity consumption in watts (recorded with an electricity usage monitor):Standby mode: 1 watts
Speed 1: 16.5 watts
Speed 2: 32.7 watts
Speed 3: 47.3 watts
Speed 4: 69 watts
Speed 5: 94.3 watts
Speed 6: 145.2 watts
Estimated running costs (electricity consumption + filter replacements):$421.47 per year
Cost per CADR cfm (based on dust CFM as reported by AHAM):$3.60
Manufacturer’s warranty:10 years
Country of manufacture:Switzerland / Germany

See our full review

5. The best air purifier for small spaces is the Winix A230

Affordable, energy-efficient and compact, the Winix A230 is a great choice for small rooms but with limited performance.

Even though buying a small air purifier might save you some money on the initial purchase, the long-term costs can be the same for much less clean air in your home.

That is why I always recommend that most people go for large air purifiers with a minimum CADR of 200 cfm because smaller devices usually run too loud at the highest fan speed and need filters changed more regularly than larger units. 

However, I also know that consumers want smaller devices, which explains for why the Levoit Core Mini and the Aroeve MK1 are popular best sellers, even when they are pretty useless for the average American home.

Thankfully, we tested many smaller air purifiers last year, and I am pleased to say that the Winix A230 surprised me to the point it became one of the best-performing devices we tested. It also helps that you can often find this air purifier for less than $80—when I wrote this post, it was $77. 

Like other small air purifiers, the Winix A230 doesn’t take much space but has a decent CADR of 149 cfm for dust. In our air cleaning performance test, it cleaned the air in our test room of PM1 pollutants in 35 minutes with PlasmaWave (ionizer) enabled. As with most Winix models, the Plasmawave is optional; you can run the A230 with just the mechanical filters.

What we really like

This is the best-performing small air purifier we have tested, removing PM1 from our home lab in just 35 minutes.
It is available at a great price: you can usually find it on Amazon for less than $80.
The design looks better than the Core 300 and doesn’t have the issue of the filter cover opening by itself when moving the unit around on the floor.
Great value genuine filters from Winix: $20 cheaper than Levoit.
It comes with auto mode, which is very rare at this price point.

What we think could be better

Noise levels can get pretty loud, reaching 57.9 dB at its highest fan speed.
It comes with impregnated carbon fabric instead of the pelleted carbon you’ll find in the Core 300.
It is relatively power-hungry, pulling 45.6 watts at its top fan speed — that is 10 watts more than the TaoTronics TT-AP003.
No app support.

Like any small air purifier, I recommend you limit this device to rooms less than 200 sq. ft. and even smaller for those with larger than standard ceilings. However, if you can only choose a small air purifier, this is the best device currently available for 2024.

HouseFresh rating:★★★★★
Time to clean our 728 cubic feet test room (with the device running at top speed):35 minutes (with PlasmaWave)
Air purifier technology:Fine mesh pre-filter, True HEPA filter, activated carbon filter, PlasmaWave technology
Recommended room size (4.8 air changes per hour):231 sq. ft.
Clean air delivery rate (CADR):Dust: 154 CFM
Smoke: 149 CFM
Pollen: 147 CFM
Dimensions (in inches / in cm):9.5D x 9.5W x 14.6H inches (24.13D x 24.13W x 37H cm)
Weight (in pounds / in kg):7.1 lbs (3.2 kg)
Filter life:12 months
Noise level in decibels (measured from 3 ft. away with a sound level meter):Speed 1: 35.2 dB
Speed 2: 48.3 dB 
Speed 3: 57.9 dB
Electricity consumption in watts (recorded with an electricity usage monitor):Standby mode: 0.06 watts
Speed 1: 35.4 watts
Speed 2: 37.7 watts
Speed 3: 45.6 watts
Estimated running cost (electricity consumption + official filter replacement):$119.54 per year
Cost per CADR cfm (based on dust CFM as reported by AHAM):$0.51
Manufacturer’s warranty:2 years
Country of manufacture:South Korea

See our full review

6. The best air purifier for large spaces is the Levoit Core 600S

The 600S has an impressive CADR and works fast, even in large spaces, offering great value for money.

Most air purifiers are designed for average room sizes of around 350 sq. ft., and while you could use two devices together, this can cost more in the long run when you factor in energy consumption and filter replacements.

Those with spaces over 500 square feet need a larger device that can move enough air to provide at least 4.8 air changes per hour. Devices like the Blueair Blue Pure 211+ series can achieve this with the help of a combination of filtration and ionization, but not everyone wants to use an ionizer. If with just want to clean the air in a large area with mechanical filtration alone, you can expect to pay upwards of $500. 

Levoit changed all this with the release of the Levoit Core 600S. 

The Core 600S uses mechanical filtration to provide five (5!) air changes per hour in spaces up to 635 sq. ft. When we tested it in our 728 cubic feet test room, it cleared our room of PM1 pollutants in just 15 minutes

As I mentioned before, Dyson complained to the BBB about Levoit using HEPA in its marketing materials. This affected mainly the Levoit Core series, meaning the 600S doesn’t include HEPA-certified filters. That said, HEPA filters aren’t required to clean the air in your home. As we saw with the CR box and DIY air purifiers that use HVAC filters, non-HEPA-grade filters can be quicker at removing particles from the air.

What we really like

The 600S cleaned our test room in 15 minutes and only costs $299.99.
It comes with app support, auto mode and an air quality indicator screen.
The gas filter comes with pelleted activated carbon, instead of the impregnated carbon we see with other brands.
For such power, this unit is definitely energy-efficient. It costs less than $80 a year to run it 24/7 at top speed.

What we think could be better

The particle filter is not HEPA-grade.
The pre-filter is not removable, so it can be trickier to keep it clean.
It could be described as ugly. One person described it as a large nappy bin!

For less than $300, the Levoit Core 600S includes an auto-mode, an onboard screen showing current pollutant levels and even app support. Be aware, though, that this is a big air purifier that will require floor space. But for raw cleaning power for larger spaces, this has the best value for 2024.

HouseFresh rating:★★★★★
Time to clean our 728 cubic feet test room (with the device running at top speed):15 minutes
Air purifier technology:3-Stage Filtration (Pre-filter for large particles, main filter for airborne particles, high-efficiency activated carbon filter for odors and gasses)
Recommended room size (4.8 air changes per hour):584 sq. ft. 
Clean air delivery rate (CADR):Dust: 373 CFM
Smoke: 377 CFM
Pollen: 437 CFM
Dimensions (in inches / in cm):12.3 x 12.3 x 23.6 inches (31.3 x 31.3 x 60 cm)
Weight (in pounds / in kg):13.7 lbs (6.2 kg)
Filter life:6 months
Noise level in decibels (measured from 3 ft. away with a sound level meter):Speed 1: 40.9 dB
Speed 2: 45.9 dB
Speed 3: 61.4 dB
Electricity consumption in watts (recorded with an electricity usage monitor):Standby mode: 1.53 watts
Speed 1: 7.92 watts
Speed 2: 11.35 watts
Speed 3: 21.15 watts
Speed 4: 49.27 watts
Estimated running cost (electricity consumption + official filter replacement):$195.13 per year
Cost per CADR cfm (based on dust CFM as reported by AHAM):$0.80
Manufacturer’s warranty:2 years
Country of manufacture:China

See our full review

7. The DIY air purifier is the Corsi–Rosenthal Box

A DIY approach to democratize indoor air cleaning.

This is another air purifier you won’t see recommended by big-name publishers, as there is zero commission to be made. 

The Corsi–Rosenthal Box, or CR Box for short, was invented during the dark days of COVID-19 to help people clean their air with items you are likely to find in the average U.S. household: a standard box fan, four MERV-13 HVAC filters, duct tape and cardboard. 

Here at HouseFresh, we aim to help more consumers improve the quality of their air indoors, so we had to test the CR Box for ourselves, and I was very impressed with how quickly it removed PM1 particles from our test room.

An air purifier is just a fan and a filter and the CR box is a perfect example of this. Even with MERV 13 filters, which are lower-graded compared to HEPA, it removed PM1 (particles measuring 1 micron) from our 728 cubic feet test room in 25 minutes

But don’t just take our word for it; the EPA tested it and found it to be 99% effective at removing airborne viruses.

While a high-quality commercial device offers long-term and quality-of-life benefits, a DIY air cleaner can be the best option for those who need a swift air purifying solution due to wildfire smoke or an unexpected airborne pandemic.

What we really like

It is an air purifier you can build yourself with parts you might already have available at home.
Excellent air cleaning performance for the price — one of the best ratios of performance to money spent.
You’ll be choosing the materials, so it’s super customizable and a fun project on its own.
All parts are readily available on Amazon.

What we think could be better

It is a huge device and not the best looking — it takes up a lot of floor space.
It can run loud depending on the box fan you use.
No carbon filter for gasses, VOCs or odors.
There are no extra features you’ll find on commercial devices, like the ability to schedule usage.

This year, we plan to test a new type of DIY air purifier that utilizes PC fans like the Nukit Tempest to minimize noise levels generated, as CR boxes can run quite loudly depending on the box fan used.

Be aware that a Corsi–Rosenthal Box will take up a lot of floor space and, depending on your box fan, can run quite loud.

HouseFresh rating:★★★★★
Time to clean our 728 cubic feet test room (with the device running at top speed):25 minutes
Air purifier technology:MERV 13
Recommended room size (4.8 air changes per hour):680 sq. ft.
Clean air delivery rate (CADR):Estimated: 274 CFM 
Dimensions (in inches / in cm):20L x 20W x 20H inches (50L x 50W x 50H cm)
Weight (in pounds / in kg):10 lbs (4.5 kg)
Filter life:6-12 months
Noise level in decibels (measured from 3 ft. away with a sound level meter):Speed 1: 49 dB
Speed 2: 55.1 dB 
Speed 3: 60.7 dB
Electricity consumption in watts (recorded with an electricity usage monitor):Standby mode: 0 kWh
Speed 1: 40.5 kWh
Speed 2: 44.5 kWh
Speed 3: 46.7 kWh
Estimated running cost (electricity consumption + official filter replacement):$125.13 per year
Cost per CADR cfm (based on dust CFM as reported by AHAM):$0.29
Manufacturer’s warranty:n/a
Country of manufacture:China

See our full review

8. The best air purifier with ionizing function is the Winix 5500-2

A versatile yet powerful air cleaner suited for mid-sized rooms.

The Winix team has been developing great units for many years, so it makes sense for us to have not one but two Winix devices on our list this year. If interested in units with ionizers, you’re probably into speedy air cleaning. With a great price-to-CADR ratio, it’s among the fastest units we tested. 

The Winix 5500-2 cleaned our test room in 20 minutes when running with the PlasmaWave ionizer function on. Even when disabling the PlasmaWave function, the 5500-2 delivers: it only took the unit two more minutes to remove all the PM generated by the incense smoke.

What we really like

It offers a high CADR rating (232 CFM for smoke) for an affordable price ($160 when writing this).
It has a washable pre-filter, increasing the life of the main filters.
It’s a popular unit so there are plenty of cheap generic filters available.
It has sensitive sensors, so the auto-mode kicks in fast.

What we think could be better

It has no app support.
It doesn’t have a built-in memory, so it won’t remember your custom settings if the unit is unplugged.
It is a big unit so it might not be suitable for small spaces.

The initial price point ($160 when writing this) is not the only affordable aspect of the 5500-2. The unit is highly energy-efficient and the filters need to be replaced every 12 months, which will reduce the long-term costs of running this air purifier. Yet, it boasts smart features such as an auto mode and an air quality indicator on the control panel.

HouseFresh rating:★★★★★
Time to clean our 728 cubic feet test room (with the device running at top speed):20 minutes (with PlasmaWave)
22 minutes (without PlasmaWave)
Air purifier technology:PlasmaWave, removable pre-filter, washable activated carbon filter and True HEPA filter
Recommended room size (4.8 air changes per hour):360 sq. ft.
Clean air delivery rate (CADR):Dust:  243 CFM
Smoke: 232 CFM
Pollen: 246 CFM
Dimensions (in inches / cm):15W x 8.2D x 23.6H inches (38W x 21D x 60H cm)
Weight (in pounds / in kg):14.8 lbs (6.7kg)
Filter life:12 months
Noise level in decibels (measured from 3 ft. away with a sound level meter):Speed 1: 38.8 dB
Speed 2: 42.5 dB 
Speed 3: 47.5 dB
Speed 4: 58.9 dB
Electricity consumption in watts (recorded with an electricity usage monitor):Standby mode: 0.34 watts
Speed 1: 6.5 watts
Speed 2: 9.11 watts
Speed 3: 14.80 watts
Speed 4: 53.46 watts
Estimated running cost (electricity consumption + official filter replacement):$161.53 per year
Cost per CADR cfm (based on dust CFM as reported by AHAM):$0.66
Manufacturer’s warranty:2 year
Country of manufacture:South Korea

See our full review

Special mentions

Four solid air purifiers that didn’t make the cut

While we only wanted to feature the best of the best units we’ve tested this year, it’s also worth mentioning some other air purifiers with outstanding performance:

  • Levoit Core 400SWe liked that this device has the most significant amount of carbon of all of the Levoit Core devices so that it could be a good choice for tackling odors and VOCs. On the downside, the pre-filter is integrated into the filter, so it’s a bit tricky to vacuum or clean. However, it is a good unit for rooms up to 400 sq. ft.

  • Air Doctor 3000 – This air purifier was very quick at removing particles from our test room and we liked how high it ran in its auto-mode. But costs can vary and we don’t appreciate that the new version AD3500 can’t use the old filters.

  • Coway Airmega 150 – Not the best bang for the buck, but still a solid performer. The Airmega 150 is a good-looking device in a world of beige cylinders with multiple color options. We also like its removal pre-filter and low noise level at lower fan speeds.

  • Coway Airmega AP-1522hh – This is Wirecutter’s favorite device of the last few years. While it offers great air cleaning performance, the power usage and lack of pelleted carbon means it didn’t make our list. Still, it’s a good air purifier worth considering.

Other air purifiers that we tested, but you should avoid

The devices we tested that are a bad investment, based on how overpriced and underperforming they all are.

Unlike most consumer products, the work of an air purifier is hidden from the naked eye. Unless you use a high-grade laser sensor, you will have no idea if all the tinniest particles have been removed from your home. 

We have been disappointed to see many air purifiers fail to live up to expectations set by marketing materials. We like to make consumers aware of these overpriced and underpowered devices, backed by the air cleaning performance test data we gather with every review we conduct.

  • Okaysou AirMax 10L Pro – This device became a best-seller on Amazon thanks to a successful influencer campaign on TikTok. In our testing, it failed to match the hype or price point. We found that Okaysou used marketing tricks to inflate its performance. I would avoid any Okaysou device. Update 26 June 2024: Oksayou is now bankrupt, and you can no longer buy it, The 5 year warranty is now worthless.
  • Molekule Air MiniMolekule has been touting its new PECO technology but has had to remove many of its previous marketing messages due to misleading advertising claims and class action lawsuits due to the lack of performance. In our test, it was very poor at removing PM1 particles and emitted 86 dB at its highest fan speed — louder than a leafblower! If this device is recommended in 2024, know that this is due to the high commission for the publisher recommending it, as they start at $349 and go up to $999 with the Pro series.
  • Rainbow RainMate—This is an old device that is still touted as being able to clean the air. However, it was the worst-performing device in our tests, making me think that water air-cleaning is totally useless in even the smallest of home rooms. Don’t rely on this device to clean your air; stick to a good old mechanical filtration.

What to look for when buying an air purifier 

The first step is to consider what you want it for. The qualities you should look for in an air purifier will differ if you want to reduce allergy triggers at home, live near a busy road, need to improve your air quality during wildfire season or deal with pet odors and dander.

We’ve published a broad list of best pages for many specific issues, but here are the basic things you need to consider:  

1. The size of the room and the CADR (clean air delivery rate) of the air purifier. 

It’s vital to analyze these two aspects together, considering many brands overstate the cleaning performance of their units. It’s not necessarily unfunded, but there’s a catch.

According to the EPA, for an air purifier to be truly effective, it should be able to perform 4.8 air changes per hour (or ACH) in a room. Unfortunately, some brands will advertise the room size coverage to achieve just one ACH, being able to claim a somewhat opaque wider coverage.  

The rule is simple: a higher CADR (stated in CFM, or cubic feet per meter) means greater cleaning power. Instead of focusing on room sizes recommended by the manufacturer, look at the CADR rating.

The best way to go about it is to figure out how powerful an air purifier needs to be for your space’s specific dimensions. You can use our calculator to do just that:

2. The filtration system

Pure mechanical purifiers stand their ground on efficiency and safety when it comes to air filtration. The most comprehensive systems feature three stages:

  • A pre-filter to trap larger particles that would otherwise clog the main filter faster. The best units feature a removable pre-filter, making it easier to vacuum, rinse and keep in top shape. But you may find the pre-filter attached to the main one in budget air purifiers. It’s better than not having one, but it’s also harder to clean. 
  • An activated carbon filter to adsorb gasses and smells. If you need an air purifier to deal with mold spores, for example, an activated carbon filter won’t be absolutely necessary, as spores are not gases but particles.

    But if you are after a device to help you reduce unwanted smells or deal with chemicals and VOCs, then an activated carbon filter will be able to do what HEPA filters cannot.

Activated carbon is a sorbent media that traps gas molecules on its porous surface. If you need powerful VOCs or odor filtration, look out for pelleted or granular activated carbon, which has a wider surface to collect pollutants. An impregnated carbon fabric filter is not as remotely efficient as pelleted charcoal, but it can help reduce mild everyday smells.

  • Lastly, the HEPA or main particle filter will remove microscopic particles from the airstream. TrueHEPA can remove at least 99.97% of particulate matter as small as 0.3 microns.

    Yet, a denser filter just for the sake of it—like with the PuroAir—is not necessarily equivalent to a better performance. On the contrary, it’s important to balance fan power and filter thickness. If a filter is too dense and the air purifier is not potent enough to draw a good amount of air and pass it through, the cleaning power is reduced. It takes longer to remove airborne pollutants with restricted airflow.

Many mechanical air purifiers also feature a built-in ionizer that can boost the units’ CADR and efficiency. Although ionizing technology is continuously evolving, at HouseFresh, we prefer those units where, like in the Winix A230 or the 5500-2 included in the list, the ionizing function can be disabled at the user’s convenience.

3. Noise output

The fan that powers your air purifier can generate a lot of noise, and you are unlikely to want to use your unit regularly if this noise becomes too much. That is why it’s worth factoring in how noisy the unit will be, especially when running at its top fan speed. This is particularly important if you want an air purifier for the bedroom or your home office. 

Two things to consider:

  • Smaller units won’t make much of a difference to the air when running at the slowest fan speed, and they tend to be noisier than larger ones at top speed. 
  • Some air purifiers suited for big spaces can be whisper-quiet when running at their lowest fan speeds, so it is worth going bigger to get a unit that will run quieter.

4. Long-term costs

In addition to the upfront cost of buying an air purifier, you should also consider associated maintenance costs such as energy usage and filter replacement.

Running your air purifier 24/7 2ill substantially improve your air, but that also means an appliance adding to your electricity bill all day, year-round. The good news is that many energy-efficient units out there won’t significantly affect your monthly expenses. However, make sure to check this to avoid unpleasant surprises, as some units are on the power-hungry side.

A few things to consider in terms of filters:

  • Filter replacement costs vary among brands and models — and so does the required replacement frequency. 
  • The longer a unit has been on the market, the more probable good-quality generic filters will be available. 
  • More and more brands are offering convenient filter subscriptions that are cost-effective and include perks for happier customers.

5. Extra features

An extensive control panel with smart functions, app support, onboard air quality sensors or remote controls are handy perks that can make life easier. A no-lights mode for the bedroom, for example, is definitely something worth considering. 

However, if asked, I would recommend not to sacrifice CADR or performance over fancier tech-savvy bonuses. After all, the purpose of an air purifier is to clean the air.

How we test air purifiers

Saying we tested 73 air purifiers in the last three years sounds great, doesn’t it? But what does testing mean for HouseFresh?

It’s definitely not just getting the units out of their boxes to take some cool editorial pictures for our articles. On the contrary, it is a thorough process that involves reliable testing devices to cover the many aspects of air purifier evaluation.

Air cleaning performance is key, for sure. But we go further. When you decide to invest in an air purifier that will be constantly running at home, things like long-term costs and noise output are also important in a real-world context. 

Our testing process includes the following steps: 

Step 1. We conduct an air cleaning speed test

First, we burn some incense to pollute the air. Using our PurpleAir indoor sensor (which we’ve chosen after thorough research), we measure how fast each unit can remove PM10, PM1 and PM2.5 at top fan speed. The PurpleAir sensor provides regular updates on particulate matter levels, allowing us to create graphs showing the evolution of air quality in the room. 

Step 2. We assess the power of the fan

We also measure the unit’s fan power with the Testo 410i anemometer. It’s interesting to see the variation in airflow coming out of the unit at every fan speed. Especially considering the AHAM Verified program measures CADR at the highest speed setting

Step 3. We measure sound levels generated

For noise levels, we use a commercial sound meter to register the decibels (dB) emitted by the unit at all fan speeds. Like other measurements, the data is displayed in our reviews, but we also share the results on HouseFresh YouTube channel.

Step 4. We estimate yearly maintenance costs

The last step is assessing the long-term costs of running the unit. Basically, two: energy consumption and filter replacements. For the first one, we use an energy meter to monitor the energy consumed at the lowest and highest fan speeds. As for the latter, we conduct desk research to determine the costs of genuine and generic replacement filters.

Step 5. Real-life experience

All four steps comprise the core performance evaluation we run on every unit. We know the data is solid. However, there’s something about everyday use that cannot be measured in a lab-test situation. That is why our “final step” is using the air purifier regularly at home in an ordinary context. You can learn a lot by just living with a device.

Common questions people have about air purifiers

After conducting a quick Google search, a few brands monopolize the #1 air purifier ranking, including Coway, Blueair and Levoit. It makes sense, as these are all popular brands that have also been on the market for quite a long time. Most publications, however, don’t share much of their testing process, not to mention results or data, which are rather on the unexisting side.

Right now, based on our own published test results, the Leovit Vital 200S has proven to be a versatile and reliable unit that outshines many great units with a budget-friendly price point, plenty of smart features, but most importantly, a high CADR of 245 CFM capable of delivering five air changes per hour in rooms up to 375 sq. ft.

It depends. More often than not, expensive air purifiers get boosted because the associated commissions are higher than those for budget-friendly air purifiers. There are plenty of overpriced units out there with shockingly low cleaning performance that are best to avoid, such as the PuroAir HEPA 14 240 or the Molekule Mini

However, some expensive air purifiers are definitely worth considering. Take the IQAir HealthPro Plus, for example. It’s a pricey unit, no doubt. But you get certified quality for a life-long unit that will tackle any pollutant in your home.

Smart features also build up in a unit’s price tag, so if you are into auto modes, air quality readings or remote app control, you might consider chipping in an extra buck.

Usually, one powerful air purifier is more convenient than two or more smaller units. 

Although a bigger, high-performing unit will have a larger footprint and take up more space, the long-term costs (filters, energy bills) and noise output would be doubled or tripled with more than one air purifier running constantly. 

Finding the right spot to place an air purifier is key. Height is only one variable, but ensuring the unit is far enough from the wall or furnishing to draw in enough air is as important. And so it is that the air purifier has the right CADR to effectively achieve enough ACH in the room. 

Now, in terms of height, ideal placement will depend on the use you’ll give the air purifier. In bedrooms, for example, it is best to place the unit 2-3 ft off the ground to take advantage of the clean airflow as you lie sleeping. But if the unit will be in the kitchen, where you spend most of the time standing, it would be best to put it a tad higher, about 4-5 feet off the ground. The idea is to keep the air outlet close to the source of pollutants and to your breathing zone.

Short answer: yes, air purifiers definitely remove dust. 

The woven fiber maze of HEPA filters captures larger, coarse particles (such as pollen, dead skin flakes, dust mites, mold spores, pet fur or dander) and tiny ones as small as 0.3 and sometimes 0.1 microns (fine dust, soot, smoke, viruses and bacteria). 

As this particulate matter (usually called PM10 and PM2.5, referring to the particle sizes) is trapped by the filter, it’s permanently removed, unable to reenter your indoor air. 

There are a few things to consider:

  • Placement: Finding the right spot for your unit is of utmost importance. You’ll ensure optimal airflow by avoiding obstructions on both the air inlet and outlet.
  • Maintenance: Replace the filters when needed and keep the unit clean, removing any particle or dust deposition on the fan, controls, inlet and outlet. A not-so-demanding routine will help keep your air purifier in top shape for longer.
  • CADR: Make sure to choose a unit with the right CADR for the room in which you’ll be placing it. If the CADR is too small, it will make little difference to your air. Try to stick to 200 cfm as a minimum if you can afford it.

According to several studies, particulate matter (PM) and VOCs (such as ozone) are potent oxidants that induce oxidative stress in our organism. 

Oxidative stress can trigger immune system responses, with adverse health effects including inflammation of the airways, organs and tissues. These can then lead to lung diseases, such as asthma and OCPD. Inflammation can also decrease blood flow (or increase blood pressure), potentially predisposing cardiovascular diseases.

By removing PM and VOCs from our indoor air, air purifiers can, in fact, reduce harmful responses of the immune system, among many other health benefits.

Wrapping up

Air pollution is real. Over one-third of Americans still live in areas with unhealthy air and suffer from the consequences to their health. Improving our indoor air shouldn’t be something to take lightly. 

Considering how a high-performing air purifier can improve people’s daily lives, it’s somewhat infuriating to find the internet flooded with unfounded reviews of air purifiers that lack the research and data to back them up.

Our goal at HouseFresh is to help consumers find the right air purifier to fit their needs and budgets in real-life situations. We don’t take free units from manufacturers and are not afraid to raise our voices when a hyped unit turns out to be a disappointment. Most importantly, we are driven by a transparent, hands-on approach and constantly improving methods of real-life testing. 

We want our readers to find actual, helpful solutions. We may not always address all of your doubts in our articles. That’s why my mailbox is always open:

Since 2021, we’ve been conducting our tests in the same 728-square-foot office to obtain comparable data. Performing them in the same location under the same conditions allowed us to standardize results and draw consistent conclusions.

We are able to compare performance across different air purifiers from different manufacturers to quickly identify the best units for unique scenarios or situations, no matter how specific or average these may be.

At HouseFresh, you’ll never see us recommend an air purifier that fails to deliver. Every unit is bought with our own money because we don’t want any strings attached. On the contrary, we are data-driven, and all our findings are openly published on the site.

Also, we’ll never repeat manufacturers’ claimed specifications without further research or hands-on testing. Unfortunately, their data is not always straightforward or transparent, with many brands overstating the capabilities of their devices with clever marketing and outright lies.

Every unit featured in our Best Guides was put through its paces in our lab and our homes, hoping they become an effective solution for you as they are for us.  

Last update on 2024-07-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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About the author

Danny Ashton

Danny is the founder of HouseFresh and has been writing about air purifiers since 2010. He is our lead tester and reviewer, and is also the human in front of the camera in our YouTube channel.

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